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Communicating hazards—A social science review to meet U.S. Geological Survey needs

January 1, 2019

This report is for U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)—and any other—hazard scientists who want to improve the understanding and use of their scientific information, particularly by non-experts. In order for people to use science, they need to understand it. The highly technical, specialized nature of scientific information makes that difficult, particularly when few scientists are trained to communicate with people outside their fields. These issues are of special importance to the USGS because it has many users who are not scientists and because it develops and applies hazard science to help protect the safety, security, and economic well-being of our Nation.

In 2010, the Science Application for Risk Reduction group at the USGS discovered the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) guide, “The Psychology of Climate Change Communication.” Ever since, a growing number of USGS staff who need to communicate about hazards have used that guide and have asked CRED for a companion report dedicated to hazard communication to harness knowledge from more than 50 years of social science research.

In 2016, the USGS and CRED launched a collaboration to develop that companion report. Ultimately, a CRED hazard communication guide would be a Columbia University publication with a wide focus and would include many hazards that are outside the USGS purview. This report is a first step and concentrates strictly on hazard communication needs at the USGS.

To identify those needs and tailor this effort to USGS hazard communication priorities, this collaboration began with telephone interviews and an online survey of USGS staff. This report is the result; it summarizes social science research and experience in the areas of hazard communication that USGS participants deemed most important to include.

Publication Year 2019
Title Communicating hazards—A social science review to meet U.S. Geological Survey needs
DOI 10.3133/cir1449
Authors Kerry F. Milch, Suzanne C. Perry, Jennifer L. Bruce
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Circular
Series Number 1449
Index ID cir1449
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Office of the AD Hazards